Ryan Len, Founder & Design Director at The Workbench, Used Books to Shape His Entrepreneurial Perspective

Ryan Len is the founder and Design Director of The Workbench, a Singapore-based graphic design studio.

Ryan’s been an entrepreneur since he was 17, a drive that has led him from one venture to another. Some failed, some succeeded, but he definitely learned a lot in the process. He freelanced for different design studios, trying to absorb as much knowledge as possible from his mentors.

He founded The Workbench in 2014, aiming to create solutions that enable their clients to become better versions of themselves. Working closely with their clients, they craft purposeful ideas and thoughtful solutions. Their work has been internationally recognized at Tokyo Type Directors Club, one of the most prestigious organizations in typography & graphic design.

Ryan’s also the co-founder of How to Ink, a printmaking and handicraft collective, and Aaah! creative platform.

Find out more about his favorite books and how reading shaped his perspective of owning a business.

Estimated reading time for this interview is 5 minutes. If you'd rather listen to it, you can do it on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher.

What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.

Business: Start With Why by Simon Sinek. It taught me to ponder about the existence of my business and what I can offer to my industry.

Non-business: Stories Of Your Life & Others by Ted Chiang. One of the best sci-fi books I’ve read in my life!


Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?

As a business owner I would constantly think about the reason for my studio’s existence, considering that the creative industry is quite overpopulated and having many other amazing creative studios around the world.

Reading actually helped shape a lot of my perspective about running a business, and also my perspective on life in general as a human being on this planet.

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What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)

There are just way too many books that impacted the way I live and see things. One of them is The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda.


What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)


I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?

Contrary to all the interviewees, I’m actually not a reader. I fall asleep easily when I read. Hah! But I try to make it a habit to read on my commutes. And definitely a physical hard copy book!


How do you make time for reading?

I don’t actually, but I try to make an effort to read on my daily commute. No matter how short a time it is.


Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?

As I have a very short term memory, I’d usually write down interesting sections in my iPhone Notes app. This helps me keep tab of what I’ve read and interesting stories that I discovered along the way.


How do you choose what books to read next?

I’d usually turn to my friends and mentors for their recommendations.


Do you prioritize the books recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?

Yes I would. I actually have a friend and he runs a monthly book sharing meeting. He shares really interesting title recommendations which I stalk frequently.


What book are you currently reading?

To be honest, I am not reading any book currently as I am quite swarmed with projects at work.



Links where you can follow Ryan Len or find out more about his projects:



All books mentioned by Ryan Len in this interview:

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